So you've started your day, got your work out in, read the paper or other news source, eaten your breakfast, drank your coffee and even taken that high quality multivitamin you got from me. But, have you taken your probiotic? And, did you realize that the quality and potency of that probiotic is just as important as the multivitamin?
For many of you reading this, you're part of the growing group Americans (approx. 4 million now) may say yeah I take a probiotic and you would tell me it is a good one - "It has 100 billion in it." or "It has 37 different kinds in it." - are common responses I get.
While your probiotic is chock full of bacteria and has 37 different species, it may hiding behind a label that is making claims that it simply cannot back up. In fact, according to ConsumerLab.com (an independent supplement testing company), 26% of tested probiotic products contained less than 50% of what was claimed on the label, with some only containing 16% of what the label claimed.
Another disturbing trend is probiotic manufacturers are switching labeling verbiage to say the product contains the listed probiotic "at the time of manufacture" - NOT at the time of expiration. This is especially important because probiotic products, like vitamin products, degrade over time, so you want to make sure that the product you are using has an expiration date/best by date or a clearly explained potency past manufacture.
The next consideration for probiotic usage is clinical outcomes. We all want to be sure that what we are taking is going to give us the desired effect. Probiotic products are typically formulated by companies combing through the research, finding information that supports the use of a particular species or strain for a desired clinical outcome. They then repeat this process for other species/strains then they blend the probiotics they found to be helpful into one product. This sounds like a good way to do things until we remember that not all coworkers get along. Sometimes probiotic species don't work well with each other or a species/strain combination has not been studied for efficacy when taken together, and these well-meaning combinations can sometimes lead to more problems and a worsening of symptoms. This is driven home by Dr. Tod Cooperman, MD, of Consumerlab.com, "Not every product has what it claims and even those that do may not have the right type and amount of organisms for a specific condition."
This is where companies like Metagenics - who test their products with third parting examiners for quality and potency - come in. Metagenics probiotic line is called Ultraflora and is composed of several different products that are specific to a desired clinical outcome - Intensive Care for IBD, Acute Care for gastric distress like diarrhea, Women's for UTI, Integrity for Leaky Gut, etc. Additionally, all of the species/strain combinations withing a certain product have been studied so we know that work well together. This specificity allows us to treat a condition with confidence, but the flip side of that specificity is we don't have a 37 species blend. Instead the Ultraflora Spectrum is limited to 6 strains and 1 beneficial yeast that are known to work well together for general GI and Immune health promotion.
If you have other questions about probiotics, be sure to ask at your next appointment and grab a bottle of good bugs as you check out.